“The more, the merrier!” Um, sure. But in the context of family, I feel like the word “messier” should be thrown in there somewhere.

You know, just as a heads-up. Families are messy. Maybe it’s because families are real—authentic. Secretly incredible families are those ones that know they don’t have it all together but still live out their identities to the best of their ability.

It’s in families like that I’ve seen the most profound love and commitment—particularly in larger families, like my own. I also love getting to talk about what it’s like to grow up in a large family, because it makes me realize “messy” and “merry” might be synonymous, after all.

So, if you grew up in a large family...

1. You probably had a B.U.V.

That’s a Big Ugly Van, of any variety. Twelve to fifteen seats, a wide range of colors. Maybe you got lucky and landed a sleek, silver bullet—a newer model with something cool like a top compartment—but it’s equally as likely you rode around in the classic white van with tinted windows that everyone joked belonged to a kidnapper.

Either way, you had to learn to drive that baby, and it felt like driving a school bus. You had a lot of room for carpooling, though, which made for some pretty fun rides with friends.

2. You and your siblings were a cleaning army

Welcome to any given Saturday of your life. Every single one of you was outfitted with a rag, broom, or bottle of Windex, and there was a list. Doing battle against dust and dirt was taken with little enthusiasm, but you all knew you were responsible for the mess in the first place.

Like I said, families are messy! But teamwork makes the dream work, and that work got done quickly when everyone pitched in. Of course, you still all drew straws for who ended up having to clean sinks and toilets.

3. Life was centered around the {enormous} dining room table

Family supper took its rightful place there every night, but during the day it was simultaneously the homework zone and laundry-folding central station. Not only did the table have to be big enough to seat everyone, but it also had to be big enough to hold everyone’s pile of clothes.

That being said, the table was probably one of your family’s prized possessions.

4. You never underestimated the power of a good hand-me-down

There was always something magical about watching your favorite t-shirt get passed down after you grew out of it, almost as if it had been given new life. It was even more interesting when you got to compare pictures of you and your sister/brother wearing the exact same shirt.

If you were on the receiving end of things, you eagerly awaited the day your sibling’s clothes didn’t fit them anymore, especially if you’d been envying the contents of their closet for a while.

5. Your “Fun Fact” about yourself is that you have {fill in the blank number of} siblings

Maybe it’s the “WOW” factor, or maybe you literally cannot think of anything else to say about yourself apart from your family, but whenever that icebreaker is pulled, you throw the number out there.

You have how many siblings?” astonished people say on que. “Yep,” you nod with a little grin, knowing you’ve won the game.

6. Days at home were never boring

With several other siblings constantly running around, there was never a dull moment. From Nerf gun wars to water fights to games of Monopoly that lasted entire days, there was always something going on. Life was fast-paced, and you got pretty good at rolling with it.

7. You had enough people for your own sports team

All it took was rallying the troops and maybe getting your parents out on the lawn, and you were ready for a game. Kickball was the go-to because it worked for all ages, but you also played a mean game of wiffle ball.

8. You were the ultimate squad

Family bike rides ended up looking a lot like scenes from the Goonies, and walking into any public place as a group caught the attention of everyone.

Sure, there were times you wished you could just fly under the radar, but overall you loved the togetherness of your family—the way you stuck close to each other at all times.

9. You shopped in bulk

Sam’s Club. Costco. Anywhere that sold food in exorbitant amounts, really. Your mom was pretty much feeding an army.

10. You have the best family discussions

They usually take place at the dinner table, but sometimes on car rides or in the living room. Maybe you’d all go around and share something from your day, like the craziest thing that happened at school or how you came home to the dog getting into trash again.

Highs and lows, ups and downs. These are the people you do life with, and it’s a blessing to know they are just as imperfect as you.

At the end of the day, you find so much joy in your large family, because the love is multiplied by every member.